AMMAN — Many Circassians in Jordan are planning to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections if their designated seat in Amman’s Third District is not restored, according to representatives of the community.

Circassians were granted a guaranteed parliamentary seat in the capital’s Third District in 1989 to ensure their representation, along with another seat in the Fifth District to fulfil a two-seat quota.

In 2003, however, the Third District seat was moved to the Sixth District, which was greeted with widespread discontent among the Circassian community, former commissioner general of the National Centre for Human Rights Muhyiddine Touq said.

“The Third District seat holds symbolic meaning as the area it represents was one of the first Circassian settlements in Jordan,” Touq told The Jordan Times in a telephone interview.
As a result, he said, many Circassians will not be participating in the upcoming elections in a symbolic gesture to express their discontent.

Ishaq Mola, head of the Jordanian Circassian Political Movement’s (JCPM) executive office, said the movement had been meeting with officials since its establishment early this year to request that the Third District seat be restored.

Their demands, he said, have gone unanswered.

Mola added that the community was “shocked” when the recently amended Elections Law increased the number of seats in the Lower House of Parliament from 120 to 150 without raising the Circassian quota.

The JCPM leader said his organisation, which has over 200 official members, was formed to encourage Circassian participation in national politics, as well as to specifically address the issue of restoring the Third District seat.

“The current movement represents a national framework that seeks to create agreement and understanding between different political and social institutions for Jordanians in general and especially Circassians to promote the reform process.”

The Circassians are an ethnic group that has resided in Jordan since 1878, after they were displaced during the Caucasian War.

The number of Circassians in the Kingdom is estimated at around 200,000.